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SBD/September 27, 2012/Media
NHL Lockout, Day 12: Television Networks Could Lose Big If Work Stoppage Persists
Published September 27, 2012
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GAME OF WHAT IF: ADWEEK's Anthony Crupi wrote analysts only need to look "at the Nielsen ratings to assess how crucial hockey is" to NBC Sports Network. Although the net's NHL "deliveries remain modest ... those numbers are a huge improvement when compared with periods in which the net is hockey-free." Despite the "inevitable loss of GRPs and advertising dollars it faces in the event of a prolonged work stoppage, NBC will still be on the hook for its $200 million annual rights fee." If the entire season "is a wash, the NHL will be obliged to tack on an extra year after NBC's contract expires in 2021, at no additional cost to the network." NBC and NBCSN last season "generated $150 million in NHL inventory" (ADWEEK.com, 9/24).
WHEELS IN MOTION: In Toronto, Lance Hornby cites a report that German-based UFA Sports Agency, which represents the KHL’s marketing arm outside Eastern Europe, is "hearing from ... North American broadcasters facing a huge hole in their hockey programming." Sportsnet's John Shannon "wonders how quickly the KHL novelty would wear off on these shores." He said, "There’s a curiosity, but just a curiosity. I don’t think it will turn people’s cranks. Shannon: "There's an old adage that sport is tribal. People watch the Leafs because they’re the Leafs. I’m not sure how many Magnitogorsk fans there are. ... I think there is a chance for better success with special events, such as the Memorial Cup and world junior tournament" (TORONTO SUN, 9/27). Meanwhile, ESPN's "SportsCenter" this morning showed highlights of Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin in his first KHL game (THE DAILY).
EUROPEAN GAINS: In Vancouver, Tony Gallagher notes there are dozens of NHL players signed to play in the KHL during the lockout, and if the NHL "keeps turning a blind eye to what's happening over there, they may find all the work they've done cultivating the game in Europe being capitalized on by this expanding league hungry for a long-term fix to what is now their unsustainable business plan." A European television contract is "really the only barrier that stands in the way of the KHL being a long-term financially viable operation." What this "influx of NHL talent is doing for the league now is essentially showing potential Western European owners and television executive what might be possible some day if they could get their act together." The NHL is "naive if they think Western Europe isn't next on the KHL agenda" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 9/27).